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Don Wright/Associated Press
Sometimes, fantasy football managers are debating difficult start/sit decisions right up until kickoff on Sunday. No matter how much research you do throughout the week, there are times when you have two or three borderline players and choosing the right one to put in your lineup can be the difference between a win or a loss for that week.
In those times, it sometimes is best to just go with your gut. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to compare stats and evaluate players to try to help you make an educated decision, too.
Things are especially getting important at this point in the season. Five weeks in, there are some fantasy managers who need to quickly turn things around if they want to get into their league’s playoffs.
Here are five players on the fantasy fence this week and suggestions for whether they should start or sit.
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Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press
Let’s get this out of the way: Dalton isn’t Dak Prescott, and he’s not going to put up the same numbers. But Dalton is also a quality backup, as he has plenty of playing experience from his time with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2011 to 2019 (some good, some not so good).
But Dalton didn’t usually play in an offense as good as this Dallas unit. He has a top running back to hand off to (Ezekiel Elliott), numerous talented wide receivers (Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb) and a solid tight end who has emerged in place of the injured Blake Jarwin (Dalton Schultz). So, there are reasons to think Dalton could be a start-worthy fantasy quarterback moving forward, especially with so many managers out there who lost Prescott for the season last week.
Right off the bat, Dalton’s first start for the Cowboys comes against a quality opponent, as they host the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. The Cardinals have a solid defense, but they also just lost one of their top players for the season in linebacker Chandler Jones (biceps surgery).
Arizona has a high-powered offense, and Dallas’ defense is lackluster. This is a game that could turn into an offensive shootout, making Dalton a worthwhile fantasy streaming option. And he plays in the NFC East, so there are certainly good matchups to come in later weeks.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
In Week 4, Mixon had the showing fantasy managers had been waiting for: 181 total yards and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) against a lackluster Jacksonville Jaguars defense. However, that last part may also be why it happened.
If you take away that game, Mixon has rushed for 223 yards on 76 carries, an average of 2.9 yards per attempt. He also hasn’t scored in any of the Bengals’ other four games, which have come against the Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens.
This week, Mixon is facing a defense better than any of those units. The Indianapolis Colts lead the NFL in total yards allowed per game (266) and passing yards allowed per game (179.6). They’re great against the run, too, allowing only 86.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks third in the league.
There aren’t a ton of great running backs available on most leagues’ waiver wires, so if you have a key player on a bye or have been impacted by injuries, start Mixon if you must and hope he at least finds a way into the end zone. But if you have the roster flexibility to keep him on the bench, that would likely turn out best.
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Justin Berl/Associated Press
It’s sometimes not wise to base a decision on one game. And if you think Claypool is going to repeat his four-touchdown performance from a week ago, then you’re likely to be disappointed.
But if you were the lucky manager to secure Claypool off your league’s waiver wire this week, he immediately becomes a start-worthy option in Week 6. Diontae Johnson has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Browns with a back injury he suffered during last week’s game against the Eagles, allowing Claypool to have a breakout game (seven receptions for 110 yards, three receiving touchdowns and a rushing score).
Cleveland may be a strong 4-1 team, but one of its biggest weaknesses has been its pass defense. The Browns are allowing 296.4 passing yards per game, which ranks third worst in the NFL. In their past four games, both teams have scored at least 20 points, and another high-scoring matchup should be on the way here.
That bodes well for Claypool, who should keep the momentum going and have another strong performance. Get him into your fantasy lineup this week.
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Justin Berl/Associated Press
Whether or not Dallas Goedert has been in the Eagles’ lineup, Ertz has been a fantasy disappointment so far this season. Through five games, the 29-year-old has 20 receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown, which came all the way back in Week 1 at Washington.
The past two weeks, Ertz has been even quieter than at the start of the season. He had four receptions for nine yards in Week 4 against the 49ers and one six-yard reception last week against the Steelers.
With so many top pass-catchers still out for Philadelphia (Goedert and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery), opposing defenses may continue to key in on Ertz and take him away. It’s worked so far, as he’s had only five and six targets the past two weeks, his lowest totals of the season.
The Eagles are struggling, and the Ravens’ middle-of-the-pack pass defense may be enough to limit their production. Don’t risk it again this week, bench Ertz and find a better streaming option on the waiver wire.
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Mike Roemer/Associated Press
If you’re going to sit Ertz, you’ll need another tight end to plug into your lineup. And with Tonyan still available in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues and 42 percent of ESPN leagues, he could be a worthy streaming option even if you don’t yet have him on your roster.
After not catching a pass in Week 1, Tonyan has gotten into the end zone in each of the Packers’ past three games. That included his breakout three-touchdown performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, when he hauled in six receptions for 98 yards against the worst pass defense in the NFL.
Tonyan may not catch as many touchdowns this week with top wide receiver Davante Adams returning from injury, but he should still be a factor in Green Bay’s offense for its road matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have allowed a tight end to score a touchdown in each of their past two games.
Tonyan isn’t yet a top-tier fantasy tight end, but he’s proving to be a solid option and could continue that form with another strong showing this week.